- Museum number
Calcite-alabaster slab with orange veining; incised 6 line South Arabian inscription which states Bahil Ahsan and Rabib Yazil built the fortress of Kaukaban by the power of Almaqah and dedicated the booty of Wadd'ab in honour of the sun goddess; both front and back are polished.
Height: 60 centimetres (with stone base)
Height: 51 centimetres
Thickness: 15 centimetres (with stone base)
Thickness: 6.50 centimetres
Width: 67 centimetres (with stone base)
Width: 60.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Could the polished back indicate that this is a recycled block?
Bowers catalogue entry
Inscription referring to the construction of a fortress
Calcite-alabaster with orange veining
Height 51 cm, width 60.5 cm, thickness 6.5 cm
ANE 1871-3-11,2 = 125054
Presented by Captain W.F. Prideaux (1840-1914)
The complete six-line South Arabian inscription can be translated as follows:
“Bahil Ahsam and Rabib Yazil, both from Abnata (?), founded and defended the fortress Kawkaban with the power of Almaqah. And they dedicated in honour of their Sun-goddess the plunder of Wahhab”.
The inscription therefore refers to the construction of a fortress by Bahil Ahsan and Rabib Yazil, acknowledges the divine support of the supreme Sabaean god Almaqah, and closes by stating that a collection of booty was dedicated in honour of the sun goddess. The construction of defences was a typical feature of the South Arabian cities after the 7th century BC: it may not be coincidental that at this same period Karibil Watar declares himself as the first king of Saba and describes a number of successful military campaigns. Nevertheless, the size of the ancient South Arabian armies appears to have been rather small, there are no references to siege equipment, and horse-cavalry were not used until the second half of the 1st century AD. These armies therefore presumably consisted of bands of infantry and possible camel-riders, armed with bows, spears and swords.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2004-2005 17 Oct-13 Mar, California, Bowers Museum, 'Queen of Sheba: Legend and Reality'
- Old restoration to the back enabling it to be secured to the stone base
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- "Presented by Lt. Prideaux" (Register 31). Letter from donor includes Prideaux's sketch of the inscription (ANE Corres 1970).
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 55 (exhibition number)
Miscellaneous number: 662 (exhibition number)
Miscellaneous number: CIH 106 (siglum)
Miscellaneous number: Halevy 686 (siglum)
Miscellaneous number: RES 3122 (check)